PS 343 The Peck Slip School
Manhattan NY 10038
Zone for the 2017-2018 school year. Call school to confirm.
Vegetarian lunch, stunning building
New school doesnt have a track record
The newest of the downtown schools, Peck Slip School, opened in 2012, has the luxury of space. They moved into their permanent building in 2015. It has large windows with stunning views of the Financial District; airy, well-equipped classrooms; and spotless, well-lit halls.
One room, adjacent to the cafeteria, is set aside for children to play in with large rubber blocks. Classrooms for pre-k through 1st grade are equipped with wooden blocks and LEGOs which help children understand shapes and sizes as they learn arithmetic. There is a lovely library but no textbooks: Children read exclusively from books you might read for fun.
Principal Maggie Siena, who started her teaching career at PS 234 and was the principal of PS 150, has significant experience with the progressive, project-based curriculum for which the downtown schools are known. Children might study birds, or the subways, with lessons that integrate reading, writing, history and science.
Third-graders study the Brooklyn Bridge, beginning by posing their own questions: Who thought of the idea of a bridge? How did they get it on the water? How many people died building it? Was it worth it? How does it stay up? They then study the history of the bridge, reading picture books but also contemporary accounts from magazines like Harpers Weekly. They learn about the frigid winter of 1866 when ferries couldnt cross the frozen East River. They take a ferry to Brooklyn, and they walk across the bridge to see the difference. They learn basic principles of engineering.
Children call the teachers, including the principal, by their first names. The school has an informal, joyful atmosphere. Routines are clear and children move from one activity to another without a lot of wasted time. Children are free to move around the classroom and stand and stretch.
The school prides itself on its vegetarian lunchroom. A typical meal: vegetarian chili, rice, corn and salad. Children go outside for recess on the rooftop playground on all but the most frigid days. (Pre-kindergartners go out twice a day). The physical education teacher supervises the games outside; children who have trouble socializing are invited to take part in structured recess, with grown-ups guiding the play.
The school, which began with a few classes in 2012 and was housed in the Department of Education headquarters while its new building was under construction, is adding a grade each year. Its too new to have a track record, but its off to a promising start.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school offers ICT team-teaching classes. It has a full-time speech therapist and a part-time occupational therapist. Sometimes children receive these services right in their classroom; sometimes they are pulled out for individual attention.
ADMISSIONS: Neighborhood school. The school has its own pre-k for zoned children, but children from outside the zone may attend pre-kindergarten at the pre-k center, housed in the building but not formally affiliated with the school. (Clara Hemphill, October 2015)